O'Neill's Electronic Museum

Penn Valley California


Page 8

Hence the fertilization of flowers by the intervention of insects must be thwarted, and this would lead to the extinction, or at all events to a scarcity, of entomophilous plants, i. e., all those with the showiest blossoms-a gloomy result to follow from a mere increase of the earth's attraction.

But having known no other type of human form, it is allowable to think that, under these different conditions, man would still consider woman-though stunted, thick limbed, flat-footed, with enormous jaws underlying a diminutive skull-as the highest type of beauty!

Decreased attraction of the earth might be attended with another set of changes scarcely less remarkable. With the same expenditure of vital energy as at present, and with the same quantity of transformation of matter, we should be able to lift heavier weights, to take longer bounds, to move with greater swiftness, and to undergo prolonged muscular exertion with less fatigue-possibly to fly. Hence the transformation of matter required to keep up animal heat and to restore the waste of energy and tissue would be smaller for the same amount of duty done. A less volume of blood, reduced lungs and digestive organs would be required. Thus we might expect a set of structural changes of an inverse nature to those resulting from intensified gravitation. All parts of the body might safely be constructed upon a less massive plan-a slighter skeleton, smaller muscles, and slenderer trunk. These modifications, in a less degree than we are contemplating, tend in the present to beauty of form, and it is easy to imagine our aesthetic feelings would naturally keep pace with further developments in the direction of grace, slenderness, symmetry, and tall figures.

It is curious that the popular conceptions of evil and malignant beings are of the type that would be produced by increased gravitation- toads, reptiles, and noisome creeping things- while the arch fiend himself is represented as perhaps the ultimate form which could "be assumed by a thinking brain and its necessary machinery were the power of gravitation to be increased to the highest point compatible with existence-a serpent crawling along the ground. On the other hand, our highest types of beauty are those which would be common under decreased gravitation.

The "daughter of the gods, divinely tall," and the leaping athlete, please us by the slight triumph over the earthward pull which their stature or spring implies. It is true we do not correspondingly admire the flea, whose triumph over gravitation, unaided by wings, is so striking. Marvelous as is the flea, its body, like ours, is strictly conditioned by gravitation.

But popular imagination presupposes spiritual beings to be utterly independent of gravitation, while retaining shapes and proportions which gravitation originally determined, and only gravitation seems likely to maintain.

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